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MU sophomore's friends, coaches remember her distinctive personality

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 9:37 p.m. CST; updated 5:52 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 12, 2012

*An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date. The services will be held Sunday, Dec. 16.

COLUMBIA — Emily Ferguson's friends, coaches and teammates say there's one thing they'll miss about her more than anything else — her sense of humor.

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"If you were with her, you knew you were going to laugh, no question about it," said Courtney Haring, who has been friends with Ferguson since elementary school.

Ferguson, a sophomore at MU and a 2011 graduate of Kirkwood High School near St. Louis, was killed in a car accident on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

Haring played with Ferguson on Kirkwood's varsity volleyball team for four years. She said Ferguson always knew how to lighten the mood both on and off the court.

"Once, she knew I was having a bad day, so she took a running start and slid down our school hallway to my locker, landing at my feet," Haring said with a laugh.

Ellie Nothstine also played volleyball with Ferguson and has known her since the two were in elementary school.

"She was my best friend. I've never met anyone like her," Nothstine said. 

Ferguson's close friendships changed the makeup of her immediate family. When Ferguson was in sixth grade, she and Nothstine, as well as longtime friend Kathryn Fauser, introduced Ferguson's mother and Fauser's father, who were both divorced.

"They played tennis together on their first date," Nothstine said. "Kathryn, Emily and I walked around downtown Kirkwood that day, talking about how cool it would be if they became sisters, how we could have sleepovers all the time."

Eventually, Ferguson's mother and Fauser's father got married, and the girls became stepsisters. 

Julie Goodmann coached Ferguson for four years at Kirkwood. She said that when she looks at pictures from Ferguson's time on the volleyball team, it's easy to see how her positive energy lifted up her teammates.

"In all the pictures, she's the player who's jumping the highest, showing the most emotion on her face; she had this contagious excitement on the court," Goodmann said.

"Emily always had a smile on her face," Goodmann said. "We're all going to miss her quirky little comments — she was always just so much fun to be around. She had this goofy personality. She'd show up to practice with the craziest-looking shorts, the funniest shirt, the most colorful headbands. She just loved to make people laugh."

Alex Pieschel coached Ferguson from age 15 to 17 on a club team during the high school volleyball offseason. She said that Ferguson's close friendships made her a highly-respected leader, both on and off the court.

"At 5-foot-1, she was by far our smallest player, but she had a really big presence on the court," Pieschel said. "Even our tallest players listened to her. She was really good at giving directions without being bossy at all."

Emily Jaeger, who played on Pieschel's team alongside Ferguson, said that even though the two of them played the same position, Ferguson's good nature meant that there was never any animosity between them.

"Off the court, she had my back and I had hers. We'd do anything for each other, and that transferred on the court too," Jaeger said.

"Everyone just fell in love with her," Jaeger said. "She thought my mom had the perfect nose, so she would always call my mom 'Mrs. Goodnose.' A couple of days ago, I posted a picture on Facebook of my mom and I, and Emily commented on it and said, 'You look great, Mrs. Goodnose!' She was always saying hilarious stuff like that."

Two years ago, when Ferguson was 17, Pieschel was about to get married. "Emily wrote a research paper, citations and all, about why she would make the perfect flower girl," Pieschel said.

Ferguson always made it a point to get together with her former coach when she was home on a break, Pieschel said.

"A few weeks ago, I asked her how things were going and she said she was typing papers and her 'tiger paws' were so sore," Pieschel said. "She loved Mizzou and was always working it into the conversation."

Ferguson is survived by her mother, Susan Fauser, her father, Roy Ferguson, her brother, Samuel Louis Ferguson, her stepbrother, Alexander Fauser, her stepsister, Kathryn Fauser, and her grandmother Alberta Opel, according to Bopp Chapel.

Services will be held Sunday, Dec. 16* at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 7148 Forsyth Blvd. in University City, according to Bopp Chapel. Memorials are preferred to Eliot Chapel Nursery School or Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.


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